Laura Featherstone, Training Kennels Manager, gives us a behind the scenes look into the Training Kennels.
At any one time, you may find up to 40 puppies and dogs housed in the Training Kennels. It is often the liveliest place at Guide Dogs. Read on to find out what a typical day in the Training Kennels looks like.
7:00 to 9:00 am
At Training Kennels (TK), the day starts at 7 am, the dogs are toileted and then fed breakfast. After eating, TK employees or Guide Dog Trainers (GDTs) perform any necessary medical treatments, before the training dogs start their learning. Any boarding dogs and Kennel Training and Exposure (KTE) puppies move to their outside run, where they can play and chill out with a volunteer, or sometimes they come into the kitchen for crate training. Meanwhile, their beds and indoor runs are cleaned, dishes washed, laundry started, and everything tidied.
9:00 am to 3:00 pm
At 9 am the boarding dogs, KTEs and bitches in season (BIS) are taken out for free-running, individually or with their friends. After a big run and play, the dogs are usually happy to have a nap giving TK staff time for administrative duties. The afternoon shift begins at 11 am when staff have a handover meeting. One staff member will be in charge of the boarding dogs, doing enrichment, health checks, grooming, and free-running again, and another does the same with the BIS. Sometimes, a TK employee will go out with the Puppy Placement and Development Programme (PPDP) team and the KTE dogs. Another staff member will be a floater helping in different areas. This could involve completing paperwork, working on an existing project, or helping with general housekeeping tasks.
3:00 to 6:00 pm
At 3 pm, the morning shift finishes and the training dogs return to kennels. Staff and volunteers do a lot of settling work with all the dogs, getting them calm and quiet. Four-thirty is dinner time, and after a meal, the dogs are usually relaxed and ready for a nap. This allows us to get dinner dishes washed, laundry finished, and any paperwork, housekeeping and afternoon medical procedures completed.
6:00 pm to bedtime
Often, 6 pm to 6.30 pm is time for cuddles before bed. The dogs are settled and relaxed; everyone is toileted one last time and then put in their beds. Each dog sleeps with a fluffy vet bed for warmth, a Nylabone for chewing and usually another canine friend too. Before leaving at 7 pm, staff make sure everything is locked, secured, and safe so that the dogs can have a good night’s sleep.